Remembering the Past

While reading Last Shot by Tobias Wolff, I found myself crying in the middle of the library. Wolff talks about a friend who died in Vietnam and I could relate because last year, my uncle died an unexpected death during spring break. He was cutting down a tree and got pinned to death by the wires that were holding him up. He came to my mind because he was a Vietnam veteran. My family is really close and every Sunday, my Grandmother would have people over for dinner. My Uncle would always sit at the head of the table, it was his seat. Now, it is so strange when someone else eats in his spot. His daughter, my cousin, just had a baby and he was helping her out by babysitting while she was working. Wolff states the he would “often think of him in terms of what he never had a chance to be” (58). I think like this as well. If he were still living, he would have been a loving grandfather. Wolff states “He would have been one of them, another godfather for my children, another big-hearted man for them to admire and stay up late listening to” (58). He was also a very religious person and all he wanted was for his grandchild to be baptized. My cousin ended up going through with the baptism even though her husband did not agree to it since he is Muslim. Wolff says it is selfish to think of lost ones as “a character in a book” (58).
The best way to pay homage to someone is to remember them for who they were. My Uncle had to loudest voice that would pierce your skin when he got excited. I find myself missing his loud voice. He went on a missionary trip with the church and got to see the sun dance which is a miracle of God. He told almost everyone he met about his experience. He also was able to show many people the dancing sun. He was also able to take many pictures of this miracle. I never got a change to see this miracle and I regret not going with him outside to look at the sun. He inspires me to go to church every Sunday since he was a firm believer that not going to church is a sin.

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3 Responses to Remembering the Past

  1. adharahaque says:

    This was really nice reading! I agree that there are so many aspects of remembering a person. Little details always pop into our minds and these little things really help us remember a person as a whole. Wolff did a great job writing about an individual, all the details that were put into the piece helped this writing reach a whole new level. Remembering events is different than remembering people in my opinion When it comes to people-the voices, images and more about that person helps stories come to life which it did for me when I wrote about my uncle in one of my essays.

  2. ktbmuether says:

    I can most certainly relate to this post. My best friend died too young as well. It’s so hard not to imagine what he would have done if he had not died so tragically early. I think it’s a lot harder to avoid the “what if’s” when a person dies young. When a person dies too young or unexpectedly, it leaves a lot up to the imagination as to what they would have done and where their life would have taken them. It isn’t any easier when an older person passes away, but they have had their chance to live a full life (you know what their life consisted of).

    But, you and Wolff are right, it is important not to think of people as what they could have been or what they would have done. The best way to remember someone is to cherish the memories you had with them – to remember them as a true person rather than an extrapolation.

  3. aliciab23 says:

    What a beautiful and meaningful post! First off, let me say I am sorry for your loss. Secondly, it is amazing how a piece like Wolff’s can really tug at your heart strings and simultaneously reshape how you view something as personal as losing a loved one. I like how you connected with several lines in Wolff’s essay about “often thinking in terms of what he never had a chance to be,” and how you said, “I think like this as well.” Your post shows a real reflection on how we remember loved ones and compares it with Wolff’s essay in a very meaningful way.

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